Title: Lord of Rage
Author: Jill Monroe
Genre: supernatural/paranormal fiction, fairy tale retellings/mythic fiction, romance novel-ish
Series: Royal House of Shadows #2
Pages: 281 (uncorrected ARC)
Published: September 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Princess Breena had been dreaming of her warrior lover when she was ripped from her Elden castle and thrown into a strange, dangerous realm. Lost and alone, she prayed for survival and vengeance for her stolen kingdom. She found both in a woodland cottage…in a dark bear of a man.
The golden-haired beauty had eaten his food and slept in his bed when Osborn found her. Though he wanted to awaken his virgin princess to carnal pleasures, Breena wanted more—including his warrior skills. Skills the once-legendary mercenary had long buried. Now Osborn had a choice—risk his life or deny his princess her fairy-tale ending.
Second in the series but first about a female sibling of the House of Elden, Lord of Rage is Jill Monroe's story of Breena, only daughter of King Aelfric and Queen Alvina using the loose framework of the popular tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The only girl with three brothers, and thus protected and treasured and isolated, Breena is forced from her family, life and home and without protection. Though she feels initially only pampered and prepped for marriage, Breena emerges as much more capable and independent character. The three bears mentioned are surprisingly (or not so, if you've read the first two novels) not her brothers, but other interesting, dynamic men - with one in particular being especially important.
I did find the idea of the "dreamtalking" Breena uses to talk to "her warrior" to be a bit corny and overplayed (dreams of a "fierce" and "primal" man are pretty generic and cliche for romance and PNR) but I was glad to see Breena wasn't the Most Powerful Witch Mugwump or somesuch like Niolai was of vampires - surely one Alpha per magical being per family is reasonable? And I would definitely say a backseat role is eminently more suited for Breena. She's no shrinking violet happily either - evolving from a scared girl into a woman who takes self-defense lessons in the novel. I did find some bits about her a bit too good to be true like, "She'd never even glanced at another person in a cross manner in her life." So she's at least 35, but has never had a bad day/PMS/a brother who irritated her? I didn't buy that for a second - pampered princess or not. She can come across as a bit blandly, perfectly attractive but I liked her nonetheless.
Breena's less combative nature is sharply contrasted with Osborn - a berserker and the last of his kind save his two younger brothers, but similar in their secluded and isolated existences. Known as Ursan warriors (get it? Ursa = bear) Osborn is the last of his kind thanks to a covert massacre on orders of Breena's dead parents - a mistaken belief which inevitably causes waves in Breena and Osborn's also inevitable romance. The thing I found the most compelling and the saddest about Osborn was that he went from a man that hated killing, doing so out of only necessity into an assassin or mercenary. He is a man at the lowest he can go, and Breena is the one that saves him from truly becoming a monster. Once his gentler nature is shown, he is rather like a bear: gruff, wild, unpredictable and irritable - and yes that is the gentler side. He's just not my type, though I do understand the appeal of his silent/sexy aura, he never interested me.
More is revealed about the night the siblings lost all to the Blood Sorcerer - but not all. Some details and necessary facts are glaringly missing, hopefully to be forthcoming in successive novels about Dayn and Micah. More framing is given to the structures of this "realm" and the disparate peoples within it - not just vampires are here! - to give a larger impression of scope of the story itself. New powers/abilities/revelations are forthcoming, but it lacked the bite of the antagonists of the first. There was a more complete feel to the entire novel, without the rushed ending of the first particularly. Overall I liked this second installment without being too terribly invested in either outcome or characters. Pick this up if you're searching for a fast, easy read but not if you want an emotional or affecting novel. This one is pure brain candy: easy to read, easy to digest and move along to the next morsel. It's a cheapie too, for those with ereaders: only $4.11 for this less than a day read.